Crankin' Back

Built by the Nelson Bros., this 8 HP Monarch Features a most Unusual Crankshaft Configuration


| December 2005



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For the many people who have inquired about this Monarch engine, this is its story. The nameplate describes this engine as an 8 HP Monarch, manufactured by the Nelson Bros. Co. in Saginaw, Mich. for Wallace Corcoran & Co. in Portland, Ore.

The most significant difference in this engine from the 28 other engines I've owned is that the crankshaft cantilevers about 12 inches beyond the cylinder base, whereas they are typically mounted directly on top of the base. The flared shape of the water hopper and base also add to the interest of this engine. This 1,300-pound engine is throttle controlled, has 36-inch diameter flywheels and uses a Webster EK magneto for ignition.

Monarch Retrieval

In the early 1970s, my friends, Bud and Loretta Morrell of Elmira, Ore., with the help of Ernie Boyd of Elgin, Ore., discovered the engine with a tree growing between the flywheels on an isolated section of a ranch in eastern Oregon. The flywheels were buried in about a foot of dirt and were a little pitted. Remnants at the site indicated that it had powered a buzz saw.

The ranch owner was initially reluctant to sell, even though a companion engine had been stolen a few years earlier. However, Bud was determined, and after several visits, he was able to make the purchase.

Bud freed the engine from the ground, took it home and brought it back to life. The longest - and toughest - task was freeing the piston from the cylinder. This involved pounding, pressing and, finally, heating the cylinder from the inside. The Monarch has a 5-3/8-by-10-1/4-inch bore and stroke. The restoration also included cleaning, removing rust, painting, mounting the engine on skids, fabricating a brass/copper fuel tank mounted outside the base, and fabricating a muffler from two early gasoline service station bells that rang as cars drove up to the pump.

Acquiring the Monarch

I was invited to bid on the engine five years ago when Bud, still the owner, was ready to sell. He held a private, sealed bid auction between just me and a mutual friend of ours, and I was fortunate enough to have the winning bid.